Author Topic: Palaces of Carrara - Review (images)  (Read 1105 times)

Offline franks

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Palaces of Carrara - Review (images)
« on: April 26, 2017, 05:32:39 PM »


I remember seeing this title near the time it was on the BGG Hot list for its 2013 nomination for the Kenner Spiel Des Jahres. That would have been a time when I was much less familiar with the genre and it might have seemed out of my league at the time. Now a few years later and with much more experience in this gaming genre I finally decided to take the plunge on an import version of the German, HiG production of the Kramer and Kiesling title. With my newfound love of mid weight Euros along with the video play-throughs by Rahdo and Miwi this title looked promising.

Very simplified game play basics:

Players are 16th Century Nobles overseeing the building of fantastic period architecture using renowned Carrara marble.

There are only three actions you can take on a turn, Buy Marble bricks, Construct a building or place a Meeple (King) to Score a mid game feature. You can only do one of those actions per turn.



Players secure various grades of marble from a mine (Rondel) that values the goods at a scaled and varying degree.The marble is used to build various building designs in regional cities, each with their own demand on the quality of building.

The available buildings have differing values from a cost of 1 marble brick to 5, with the included expansion there are buildings with a value of 8.  (We used the included expansion in our initial plays.) When buildings are scored they could provide immediate Gold and / or Victory points and / or precious Objects.





Each game the players have many variable goal cards that set the end game condition and some scoring elements.



Available resources in the game are the already mentioned Marble, (small wood bricks in the game that come in 6 different colours), money, (which can be replenished from completed buildings) and Trophies (or Objects as these are called in the game), that are awarded for the design at their time of scoring, (these Objects are represented in quality wood tokens in the game). (Also note, in the photo that we pimped our copy with metal coins, they are not included in the game.)



Players take actions described above until the varying goal cards are completed. Then there is a final scoring to determine the winner of the game.

Initial thoughts after 2 plays with 2 players

So far, if I had to reduce my initial thoughts to a couple words, it would be that the game is too easy.

I have to admit that I enjoy games that have their inherent challenges against the game. However frustrating tight resources can be in many games these challenges can also keep me coming back for the fight.

Typical examples of this are feeding your people in Agricola or Stone Age and other games with super tight resources. I have not seen these challenges in this game. The Marble bricks aren’t that difficult to come by; the buildings aren’t that expensive or hard to buy. The objects seem to be the tightest resource but again not that difficult for a two-player game. Perhaps there’s the rub, this might be better at a higher player count. The BGG player rating does indeed rate this best at 4 but still has strong recommendation for 2 players.

A game like this ends up just being a race against the other player. With little interaction, it feels a little empty at this point. Hopefully these are only initial reservations or perhaps I just need to enjoy the race more!

The good stuff!

The game is quick!! That might seem like another tongue in cheek dig at the game but it really is a plus. It is fairly easy to get to the table.

I bought the HiG import version as this game had a very limited Zman printing. The production is very good, (as usual for HiG). The Rondel is well designed and pleasing. It works well in the game.



This is still a good mid-weight Euro that might be better suited to someone newer to the genre. There is nothing inherently wrong with the game but not enough to set this apart from other familiar titles. As of these initial thoughts I would prefer to play games in a similar range like; Vikings, Cinque Terre or Finca.

Update, after a 3-player game!

I held back publishing this review until I had a chance to try it with more players. That chance came recently at our work-lunch group. (Yes, it can play that quickly that I was able to teach the game to new players and we finished in just slightly over an hour.) The three-player game was much better. It gave me hope in the justification of the game purchase. Competition was stiffer with more players vying for bricks and buildings. I still feel another player would make it even more challenging, (but would add a little more time to the game).

So in the end if you are looking for a fairly easy mid-weight game at a higher player count that can play in roughly an hour this is might be worth looking at.

Linkback: http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=3285.0
Franks

Wanna play Carc? Can we add just one more expansion?

Offline jungleboy

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Re: Palaces of Carrara - Review (images)
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2017, 12:32:55 AM »
Thanks for the review! This was somewhere on my subconscious radar - I knew about it and was intrigued but had never really looked into it.

As of these initial thoughts I would prefer to play games in a similar range like; Vikings, Cinque Terre or Finca.

I had just been thinking a couple of paragraphs earlier that if I already have Vikings, Finca, Navegador etc, then there doesn't really seem to be a niche to fill in my collection for Carrara. So that's where my thoughts stand now.

Offline Decar

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Re: Palaces of Carrara - Review (images)
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2017, 09:15:46 AM »
The component design looks very tidy and the boards looks colourful.

I'd be interested to know how it compares to Vikings or Helios - especially at 2-players; it seems to be a blend of both!

Thanks for the write up franks - another well earned merit from me  :(y)

Offline franks

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Re: Palaces of Carrara - Review (images)
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2017, 08:57:35 PM »
Thanks Decar! I can only compare it to Vikings as I haven’t played Helios.

Funny enough I’ve come across 2 copies of Helios in the last few weeks but the price point was high. The theme also wasn’t overly enticing but I would try it if I had a chance. If you’ve played please let me know your thoughts on it!

In comparison to Vikings there is some differnces to the Rondel and to game play. In Vikings you buy and place a tile immediately where in Carrara you buy and gather resources over turns then build. Both games lead to later scoring. At this point the games start to differ even more. Despite some similarity to the Rondel for me Vikings has much more tension that I mentioned.

We played a game of Vikings last night where my wife was swimming in money. She could afford to buy higher priced tiles while I barely scratched up a few coins most of the game that somewhat limited my choices. It was kind of brutal but in the end through careful game play and despite that difference in funds I pulled off the win. This might have come with a little more opportunity for interaction in a 2-player game. I was able to secure a few tiles and meeples that my wife could have used to try and hold her back.

You might not be familiar with Finca but the Rondel and the game is a little more similar with Carrara. The resources are gathered and used in Finca to fill orders. Finca certainly feels tighter with two players. There is more competition for orders (they would be similar to buildings in Carrara). I haven't given Finca the review treatment, I’ll have to work on that   ;)

Regardless of the game play I’ve really enjoyed the Rondel mechanism (and differences) in these games.


Carrara Rondel


Vikings Rondel


Finca Rondel photo by BGG User, Endersgame

As an end note for my post, I might try placing fewer buildings in a two player Carrara set up to see what that does, (maybe set out 6 instead of 9). It’s also a good idea to hand pick the many end game conditions. The game length and challenge can also be control this way.


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